Students set to protest as 'Where's Tony' Abbott cancels Deakin visit

May 21, 2014
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Students are staging protests across Australia today in response to education cuts proposed in the Federal budget, and Prime Minister Tony Abbott will be caught in the commotion during his visit to Deakin University.


In another episode of ‘Where’s Tony?’, the PM and Education Minister Christopher Pyne have cancelled today’s scheduled visit to the Geelong university following safety advice from the Federal Police.

In an attempt to re-brand student protests, democracy and himself in one fell swoop, Pyne told ABC’s Lateline last night that the cancellations are out of genuine concern for students.

“[It was] so students can get on with their studies unmolested by the Socialist Alternative, which seem quite intent on shutting down democracy in Australia,” he said.

The ministers were set to attend the opening of Deakin University’s carbon fibre research facility, but since the government last week announced plans to cut funding for university courses by 20 per cent and deregulate university fees, students are making a mess of democracy.

National Union of Students education officer Sarah Garnham says “students will not go quietly in the face of these attacks” on tertiary education.

“Liberal ministers who are savaging students have no right to speechify and justify their heinous policies on our campuses. Students are right to hold them to account and to disrupt business as usual while their policies loom large,” she said in a media release.

(FYI: 'speechify' means to pontificate, or basically to sniff your own farts while make a boring speech.)

The ministers’ cancellation follows a bit of argy-bargy at both the University of Sydney and the University of Melbourne in the last week, with protesters targeting foreign affairs minister Julie Bishop and former minister Sophie Mirabella respectively (as opposed to respectfully).

Prime Minister Tony Abbott was technically also targeted alongside Julie Bishop, but the #tonyatusyd hunt turned into a particularly tedious page of Where’s Wally, with students only finding Wilma.

Since the Q&A live television student demonstration, there are fears that Coalition ministers may have to spend the money raked in from uni fees on Popemobiles, but Greens senator Richard Di Natale said the security fears were fabricated.

“He was a bully in opposition and now he has shown himself to be a coward in government. If you’re going to wield the axe so brutally you owe it to the people to front up and explain yourself. The least he can do is put up with a few noisy protesters,” he said in The Herald Sun.

The demonstrations organised by the National Union of Students may cause some disruption and traffic congestion in national CBDs today, as well as even pollution – students are planning on burning paper copies of last week's budget in demonstration.

Ash Berdebes

Image: Tony Abbott picture from WikiMedia Commons badly Photoshopped over a Where's Wally picture